Victoria Fossil Cave

Victoria Cave


Useful Information

photography
Map of Victoria Fossil Cave, Naracoorte Caves, South Australia, Australia. Public Domain.
Location: 12 km south-east of Naracoorte.
(-37.047170, 140.803460)
Open: Visitor Center: All year daily 9-17.
Cave Tours: All year daily 10:15, 14:15.
World Heritage tour: All year after appointment.
Adventure Caving Tour: All year daily after appointment.
[2022]
Fee: Victoria Fossil Cave: Adults AUD 35, Children (4-15) AUD 17, Children (0-3) free, Family (2+2) AUD 87.
Groups (10+): Adults AUD 29.50, Children (4-15) AUD 15.
World Heritage tour: Per Group AUD 321.50.
Adventure caving – advanced: Adults AUD 130.50.
[2022]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:  
Guided tours: L=420 m, St=70.
World Heritage tour: D=3 h, Min=2, Max=4.
Adventure caving – advanced: D= 3 h, MinAge=12.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: R.T. Wells (1975):
Reconstructing the past - excavations in Victoria Fossil Cave,
Aust. Nat. Hist. 18(6): 208-11.
R.T. Wells, K. Moriarty, D.L.G. Williams (1984):
The fossil vertebrate deposits of Victoria Fossil Cave: an introduction to the geology and fauna,
Aust. Zool. 21(4): 305-33.
Anon. (1989):
Naracoorte Caves: Pleistocene fossil vertebrate deposits of Victoria Fossil Cave,
South Australia. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Adelaide, NPWS, 1989 : 13p; illus (photos)
Based on a draft nomination for the World Heritage List in 1988, this report lists the 93 species identified, and describes the fossil bed.
J.M. Desmarchelier, A. Goede, L.K. Ayliffe, M.T. McCulloch, K. Moriarty (2000):
Stable isotope record and its paleoenvironmental interpretation for a late Middle Pleistocene speleothem from Victoria Fossil Cave, Naracoorte, South Australia.
Quaternary Science Reviews 19: 763 - 774
Steven Bourne, George Bradford (2003):
Victoria Fossil Cave — Making it a Cave Once Again,
Cave and Karst Management in Australasia 15, Proceedings of the 15th Australasian Conference on Cave and Karst Management - Chillagoe 2003. pdf
Address: Naracoorte Caves National Park, P.O.Box 134, 89 Wonambi Road, Naracoorte SA 5271, Tel: +61-8760-1210. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1869 opened to the public, perhaps South Australia's first tourist attraction.
1969 discovery of fossil remains by cavers of the Cave Exploration Group of South Australia (CEGSA).
1988 nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage List.
1994 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Description

photography
Marsupial Lion (Thylacoleo carnifex) skeleton at the Victoria Fossil Cave, Naracoorte Caves, South Australia, Australia. Public Domain.
photography
Marsupial Lion (Thylacoleo carnifex) skeleton at the Victoria Fossil Cave, Naracoorte Caves, South Australia, Australia. Public Domain.

Victoria Fossil Cave is a significant scientific site since the discovery of fossilised remains of ice-age animals in 1969. This place is inscribed on the World Heritage list because of the extraordinary deposit of fossil material. Some say it is one of the most important fossil site on Earth. The fossils illustrate faunal change spanning several cold and warm ages, highlighting the impacts of both climatic change and humankind on Australia's mammals since 500.000 years BP. They span the probable time of the arrival of humans to Australia, and this is of value in analysing the complex relationships between humans and their environment. Specimens representing 93 vertebrate species have been discovered, ranging in size from very small frogs to buffalo-sized marsupials. These include exceptionally preserved examples of the Australian Ice Age megafauna, as well as a host of modern species such as the Tasmanian Devil, thylacine and others.

Further research is expected to document a series of snapshots of Pleistocene life in southeast Australia, including details of climate and vegetation associated with the fauna. Recent geological research suggests that deposits of Pliocene and even Miocene age could be found at the site.

The entrance hall is 80 m long and 30 m wide and has fine speleothems. After its discovery only this chamber was known and the cave was named Victoria Cave. At the end is a narrow passage, which was the place where the cavers discovered the fossil site after they felt an air current and followed a narrow passage. It was widened, so you can walk upright, but it is still quite narrow. Then you reach another wide chamber with the large excavation site in one corner. The layers of sediment are up to 20 m thick and contain the remains of many species of animals, some of which have long been extinct. They came in through small vertical openings in the cave ceiling and were trapped. This effective animal trap allows today extensive studies of how climate change affects the fauna. Most important are the remains of Australia's megafauna such as Thylacoleo, Diprotodon, Zygomaturus, and the "sthenurine kangaroo". Until today the big question is why they became extinct and probably the answer will be found here one day. When the visitor numbers are low and the guides have more time, they sometimes take interested visitors to the next chamber, which is not as spacious as the first. It contains beautiful stalactites and another fossil site. The cave is left through an 150 m long artificial tunnel.

The newest tour at Naracoorte is the World Heritage tour, which is a result of the fact that the caves were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is called a behind-the-scenes tour, as it allows visitors to see important excavation site which are not part of the normal tours. This includes Victoria Fossil Cave, Blanche Cave, and possibly other dig sites not accessible to the general public. The exact tour depends on where the scientists actually work, and if they are on site you will meet scientists working on the digs which are very happy to talk about their work. It always includes the Fossil Lab, a working laboratory where normally researchers are at work and where much of the fossil material is stored. This tour is led by one of the most senior guides.

On of the Advanced Caving Tours also takes place in the Victoria Fossil Cave. It is called Starburst Chamber as this chamber is the highlight of the tour through cave parts which are normally not accessible to the general public. This tours are full cave trekking tours and require crawling through low sections and require a "reasonable" level of fitness. It is necessary to survive a novice caving tour of either the Blackberry or Stick-Tomato Cave before you are allowed to take place. This way the guides can better assess if you are able to do the advanced tour.